Game one of Chanelle Molina’s professional basketball career ended with a loss, but the Norrköping Dolphins might be back in the title chase.
Molina scored 24 points and grabbed four rebounds in the Dolphins’ 72-65 loss to league powerhouse Hogsbo on Saturday. The Dolphins were fourth out of 11 teams last season in the top tier of the Swedish Basketball League. Hogsbo reached the league finals.
“Our team had only one week to prepare for our first game, and the team that we played was one of the top teams. We were in it until the final minutes,” Molina said on Sunday. “We were in it until the final minutes. We have a lot more room to improve, which gives me really good hope to be in the finals.”
Molina shot 7-for-14 from the field, hitting three of her six tries from 3-point range. The former Pac-12 Conference all-defensive team selection also had four steals and only one turnover in 36 minutes.
Lovisa Hjern added 15 points, and Erika Davenport had eight points and 13 rebounds for the Dolphins. Alexis Hyder led Hogsbo with 26 points and 13 boards. The home team shot 86 percent (18-for-21) from the free-throw line.
Molina was 1-for-2 at the foul line. Her team was 12-for-17 at the charity stripe.
“The style of play is about the same as in the U.S. As for the officiating, I heard here in Europe you can get away with a lot more hand checks, but that wasn’t the case for our game because they were calling a lot of fouls,” she said.
The three-hour trek to Hogsbo’s arena in the city of Gothenburg was followed by a 36-31 deficit at the half.
The 5-foot-9 guard then sparked a rally that gave the visitors a 57-49 lead with 7:15 to play. The home team finished the game with a 23-8 run.
“We were pushing the ball a lot more in the second half and I was hitting more of my shots. The first half, I was cold, so the majority of my points came in the second,” Molina said.
Molina and her teammates arrived in Norrköping last weekend and had four days of practices before the season opener. The ride to Hogsbo’s facility was longer than a normal drive from Kona to Hilo.
“I knocked out after the first 15 minutes, so I didn’t do much sight-seeing. But from what I saw, there were a lot of trees,” Molina said. “There was a decent amount of fans that were spread out in the stands.”
The three-time Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year added one more note.
“Shout out to (former Konawaena player and assistant coach) Jessica (Hanato) Guillermo. I forgot to give her a shout out last time,” Molina said.
Norrköping’s next game is on Saturday against Lulea Basket. There are 22 games in the regular season, which ends on Mar. 20, 2021.